Refugees and civilians caught in Libya's crossfire

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on April 10, 2019 - Duration: 02:00s

Refugees and civilians caught in Libya's crossfire

Casualties are mounting in the battle for Libya's capital Tripoli, with thousands fleeing their homes and the UN's refugee agency forced to relocate refugees from a detention camp.

David Doyle reports.

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Refugees and civilians caught in Libya's crossfire

Casualties are mounting in Libya's capital Tripoli as a battle between forces loyal to two rival governments continues to rage.

Among those caught in the crossfire, these refugees.

Libya is the main conduit for African migrants and refugees trying to reach Europe, with many held in detention camps like Ain Zara in Tripoli's south.

On Tuesday (April 9) the UN's refugee agency relocated 150 people from there because of fighting nearby.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) UNITED NATIONS HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES (UNHCR) DEPUTY CHIEF OF MISSION IN LIBYA, MATTHEW BROOK, SAYING: "As I'm speaking, I can hear there's artillery fire going on, explosions and we're trying to move as quickly as possible.'' And this was the scene near the camp; soldiers loyal to the Tripoli-based government of Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj trying to block the advance of the Libyan National Army of Gaddafi-era general Khalifa Haftar, who backs a parallel administration based in the eastern city of Benghazi.

The LNA seized Libya's oil-rich south earlier this year before sweeping through largely unpopulated desert regions towards Tripoli.

At the weekend they took control of a disused airport, and have carried out airstrikes as they seek to advance towards the city center.

But witnesses say the LNA has now lost control of the airport and withdrawn down the road.

The latest cycle of bloodshed since Muammar Gaddafi's fall in 2011 threatens to disrupt oil supplies, trigger more migration to Europe and scupper UN plans for an election.

But there is a more immediate, human cost; medical facilities have reported 47 people killed and 181 wounded in recent days.

While most of those killed were fighters, the fatalities also comprised nine civilians including two doctors, the World Health Organization said.

It's also triggered a wave of people fleeing their homes, with 4,500 displaced, according to the UN, alongside the rising casualties.

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